Twitter, smartphones help in treating stroke victims

Specialists at a hospital in Japan have treated more than 160 stroke patients remotely--using smartphones and Twitter accounts, according to a study of the pilot program presented last week to the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

The i-Stroke system transfers hospital-generated patient, clinical and imaging information including CT scans, MRI results and CT angiograms from a hospital "stroke server" to a physician's smartphone, which is preloaded with diagnostic-management tools. The consultation occurs via Twitter direct messages, seen only by the message recipient.

The consulting specialist also can follow the patient's treatment through receipt of intra-operative images and continue to consult if necessary, according to an announcement by the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

The technology takes remote stroke treatment a step beyond typical stroke telemedicine programs, in which a specialist at a hospital stroke center consults with doctors treating patients at a community hospital.

Dr. Yuichi Murayama, director of the Center of Endovascular Surgery at the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, says the idea for the i-Stroke technology came when he was traveling monthly to Los Angeles. His development partner is Hiroyuki Takao, an instructor at the hospital. Both also have joint appointments at the University of California Los Angeles medical center.

The system now is being used at six Japanese hospitals. The next step: a U.S. trial evaluating the impact on treatment times ahead of possible FDA approval. I-Stroke is licensed by Fujifilm Corp.

Smartphone-enabled diagnoses using an application called ResolutionMD were just as accurate as diagnoses made at hospital workstations, reports CMIO, citing a study published last year in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The application only works in conjunction with a CT scanner, according to the report, appearing to provide less mobility than Murayama's app.

A typical hospital telemedicine platform costs as little as $10,000, down from $25,000 in 2007, CMIO also reports.

To learn more:
- see the study abstract
- read the SNIS announcement
- check out the CMIO report